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Kids Count survey shows Minnesota a top state for children's well-being

Researchers warn COVID likely made racial, economic inequalities worse.

Children's defense fund - Minnesota logo
Children's defense fund - Minnesota
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The full effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on families with children has yet to be measured. However, early data shows families struggling with food insecurity rose by 69% from 2018 to 2020, according to the 2021 Kids Count Data Book.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the annual national data report Monday, June 21 showing that Minnesota children rank third nationwide in measurements of education, health and economic well-being.

While much of the data is from before 2020, some indicators show that households with children were hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data from Feeding America included in the 2020 Minnesota report showed that about 273,800 children in Minnesota were food insecure, meaning they did not have regular access to enough food to live an active, healthy life. That’s a 69% increase from 161,880 in 2018.

U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey from last year sheds some light on the effect COVID-19 has had on Minnesota families and children.

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About 46% of Minnesotans in households with children lost income since March 2020. Approximately 341,000 Minnesotans with children in their household have benefitted from Unemployment Insurance since March, while another 64,000 applicants were denied benefits or were unable to access the program.

Much of the data collected for the report dates to 2019 or earlier. The report includes data from multiple sources, including the Census Bureau, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, and other organizations.

Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota releases a report each fall that focuses on Minnesota families and children.

The national report’s snapshot of Minnesota shows the state ranked third for overall well-being of children. Specifically, Minnesota ranked third in economic well-being based on data up to the pandemic, with about 143,000 children living in poverty.

The state ranked seventh in education, with about 48% of children ages 3 and 4 attending preschool. Teen birth rates were at an all-time low nationwide, and Minnesota’s teen birth rate was sixth lowest. Minnesota children ranked second in health as of 2019, with one of the highest rates of children who have health insurance coverage in the U.S.

Within each of those categories, the state’s Black, Latino, Indigenous and Asian children tend to fall behind. According to the Minnesota Kids Count Data Book, 37.6% of Black students were reading at grade proficiency in 2019, according to Minnesota Department of Education data.

“Our state has some of the most pronounced disparities in outcomes for the children,” said Bharti Wahi, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota. “As we move out of the pandemic and take a look at our long-standing disparities, we have an obligation to rebuild a stronger and more equitable Minnesota where marginalized children can flourish, policymakers center child and youth well-being, and communities wield power to make change.”

Related Topics: FAMILY
John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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